Sunday, May 20, 2007

The very sad case of the late Fiona Jones

Fiona Jones was selected as the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Newark in 1995. In 1997 she won, taking the seat from the Conservative party.

It seems that her problems started there, except they didn't. They started when she won selection. The next few years are a gruesome tale for anyone who wants to get into politics. It seems that some in her own camp had it in for her from the start.

Then after the election she was accused of election expense irregularities, and investigated by the police. The investigation led to a trial at which she was convicted, though for considerably smaller offences than she initially charged with. At this point Labour seemed to hang her out to dry, deciding not to pursue an appeal.

Her barristers thought otherwise and fought for an appeal on a pro bono basis, winning the appeal. She took up her seat in the House of Commons again but things were never the same. She started drinking.

She got no help from Labour centrally when she stood for election again in 2001. She lost to Patrick Mercer.

Fiona tried and in many ways failed to get some sense of justice by pursuing those who had done her harm, like for example Nottinghamshire police.

She died four weeks before her 50th birthday, alcohol playing a large part in her death, as well as the grave sense of injustice and betrayal.

You can read this very sad account in the Times on the affair here.

You can see why many people don't go into politics when even those on your own side are shooting at you. It makes for a very sad and sorry state of affairs.

Hat tip to Nick Palmer MP for the link to the article. He is also mentioned in it.

12 comments:

John said...

I’m afraid it’s much worse than “sad” it’s immoral the way that Fiona was dealt with by Patrick Mercer and the Newark Advertiser because each and every candidate should have the right to fair and balanced reporting rather than the apparently orchestrated downfall that Fiona protested about.

Because of the way that kind God fearing lady was mistreated her tender heart broke at the injustice of it all.

Had she been an MP for any other town than Newark perhaps she would be alive today.

Read the words of Mercer that so terribly belittled her efforts and must have made her feel unjustly tainted

http://tinyurl.com/2xqstd

And then read what Fiona said about the way she was dealt with.

http://tinyurl.com/2doscd

What I have said is only my opinion, it will be interesting to see, if it stands alone.

Benedict White said...

John, your first article is not written by Patrick Mercer nor does it contain quotes by him, nor anything about Fiona Jones.

What what I understand some of her own CLP members as well as the advertiser had it in for her.

What has that got to do with Patrick Mercer?

John said...

Benedict,see http://tinyurl.com/2xqstd
May 06, at 10:21

Benedict White said...

John, I have reaad the article and indeed the whole rather dull thread and all I can see about Fiona Jones is remarks from the article I linked to, which I have already read.

John said...

Benedict,

No one may shut his eyes and think that the pain which is therefore not visible is nonexistent. To close your eyes will not ease another's pain and yet I might show facts as plain as day: but, since your eyes are blind, you'd say, "Where? What?" and “dull thread” then with a rather cavalier attitude, turn away!

Benedict White said...

John, I understand that Fiona suffered a lot, but you are blaming Patrick Mercer and the local paper.

My understanding is that the local and national Labour party were much more at fault than Patrick could ever have been.

You seem to be ignoring that without providing any further information as to why Patrick Mercer was to blame.

John said...

Benedict,

I’m sorry but you clearly see “Patrick” through rose-tinted glasses and as a result nothing I can say will make the slightest difference, nonetheless perhaps Patrick Mercer is becoming past his sell-by date—the Tories puppet MP and yesterday man clinging to his political aspirations. The (“I am he”) man craving a position of power with the desire to turn us all into informants, a merchant of flattery that gave his support for ID cards.

When Tony Blair cunningly initiated his casus belli about WMD in Iraq along came a spider a man seemingly without a conscience for whom the ends mostly justifies the means. It is said that war can be the making of a politician and I believe this played a big part in Mercer’s decision to vote for war on the government motion authorising "all means necessary" indeed his widespread recognition can be attributed to the war and the terrorist aftermath which I think he knew full well would be forthcoming. Mercer said: “Saddam Hussein needs to be pushed to the wire militarily” and the Iraqi people were indeed pushed to the wire militarily and died by their ten’s of thousands and too many of our lads came home suffering with PTSD.

Specialists at King's College London estimate that up to one in four soldiers suffer from mental problems after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but that apparently is of little concern to Mercer who said: “The Afghan campaign will not be won with the use of hi-tech gadgetry, it will be won by boots and bayonets and this is what the Prime Minister has singularly failed to guarantee.”

Mercer would guarantee more PTSD among our soldiers, I’m glad the Prime Minister was more mindful of their already enormous burden and that of their families.

But what else can we expect from a politician who is said to have “recommended cluster bombs as others might recommend Thornton’s chocolates” and if you do not see what I see, and feel what I feel, then the powers that be will likely be the morally bankrupt, the warmongering, soulless pitiless and despotic cash grabbing politicians with their own evil agenda.

The ambulance service in Newark is exceedingly poor, the Police service is also very poor and those who need life saving emergency hospital treatment in Newark can but hope not to die during the long time wasting journey down country roads. And yet Mercer’s mind, sickening as it may seem, is firmly fixed upon all things military which is decidedly no longer his brief but continues to be his mania. Such an intense enthusiasm can only be to the detriment of his constituents who rightly expect his full and undivided commitment to their hospital and Police service and yet things remain virtually unchanged and unacceptable under his term in office.

Perhaps he would do well to ask why an old lady had to wait over an hour for her ambulance instead of what type of ammunition was used in Iraq and a whole host of other military questions to satisfy his mania.

Benedict White said...

John, your original comments blamed the sad demise of Fiona Jones on Patrick Mercer and the local newspaper.

To date you appear to provide any useful information to back the assertion that Patrick Mercer was heavily involved. (I agree about the newspaper)

Your latest post seems to be an attack on the man as a local MP. I have not got sufficient knowledge to discuss that, but it still does not seem to have much to do with the demise of Fiona Jones.

Do you actually have any information about Patrick Mercer's orignal campaign that you would like to draw to my attention?

John said...

Benedict,

Patrick Mercer, unyielding in his determination that he should become the MP for Newark used some extremely damaging rhetoric to portray Mrs Jones as entirely incompetent and wholly indifferent to the needs of her constituents. Fiona said of those touting for Mr Mercer: “The Tories have been asking people on the doorstep if they knew their MP had been arrested on several occasions. It's very damaging. I was never arrested and the court case was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.”

From this we can extrapolate that Mercer and friends had put the fix in to make certain the chances of a win for Jones at the forthcoming election were very slim. The name of Fiona Jones was well and truly blackened.

Patrick Mercer confirmed his office had indeed received a letter from Mrs Jones.

Mercer gave the impression that Fiona was not working hard for her constituents and could not be troubled to be of service to them but nothing could have been further front the truth. Fiona (unlike some) was very concerned about what was happening in her town and told Charles Clarke that she wanted CCTV in Newark to control crime. He gave the go-ahead. And it is partly thanks to her effort that crime in Newark was to some extent abated and to this day CCTV in Newark continues to keep a watchful eyes for the wellbeing of the people of Newark. So, what Mercer said about her not doing her job properly was a blatant lie.

Largely because of all the unfair treatment Mrs Jones lost her seat to Patrick Mercer in the 2001 election which was to prove to be the beginning of the sad end of Fiona Jones. The character assassination of Fiona by Patrick Mercer and the selective and damaging reporting by the town paper opened the gateway to her demise. Chris Jones said: “She was devastated. She took to her bed and started drinking more and more.”

Mercer said on the death of Fiona Jones: “I gather the last five years have been very difficult and unwittingly I am probably, to blame for much of that, which I regret a lot.” (Crocodile tears)

You maybe interested to know that her Labour Party members gave their endorsement for Fiona to stand at the next General Election and it was then that Mercer did his character assassination. Mr Mercer said: “I hope she will have a little bit more confidence to do her job properly as she seems to break appointments, to snub people and refuse to answer telephone calls and letters. Let us hope in a year's time we get the result she richly deserves and we richly deserve, because if she cannot do the job properly, I know someone who can.”

If all this has failed to bring you up to speed then there really is nothing more I can say but like I said this is mainly my own concept of the events leading up to the death of a loyal and honourable woman who worked hard for the people of Newark.

I have nothing more to say on this sad subject except I hope Mr Mercer gets what he so richly deserves because he has caused his constituents far too much embarrassment with his repeated unacceptable behaviour.

Benedict White said...

John, I presume that you knew Fiona personaly or live in the constituencey. I too regret her death and the way she was treated.

However you still seem keen to blame it all on Patrick Mercer rather than the real culprits, in her own CLP.

The points you reiterate about Patrick Mercer are no more than I already knew. Political campaigns are like that.

The fact that Fiona got CCTV installed does not mean a great deal as it was only one thing. She may or may not have been a very hard working MP.

You fail to address the point you claim Patrick raised, about her not being at meetings etc.

You are cearly also in denial about how badly Fiona was treated by those in her own party.

John said...

I had not intended to make further commentary but let me set the record straight once and for all.

It should go without saying that her own party members failed in their duty towards Fiona. Heaven knows it’s been in the tabloid press enough, there is hardly a village idiot in the country; that is not aware of that side of the subject matter so naturally I did not trouble to mention it but rather expressed that conveniently left unsaid.

I believe the “real culprits” for her loss of credibility, self-esteem and life is those that had the most to gain by her ruination and regardless of what you may think there can be no repudiating that Mercer coveted with such blameworthy desire the job of Fiona, that he was more than willing; to unethically use The National Blood Service and unfairly attack with malicious intent the integrity of Mrs Jones to the point that his self-centred wholly ambitious accusations hit below the belt. But then Mercer said in a toryradio interview that he is not noted for his fairness (without a notion of honour or fair play) and I think that about sums him up.

In such deplorable conduct and want of morals, decidedly yes, he is truly culpable. Having said that I deduce he is not as culpable as the town paper, so no, I do not blame it all on Mercer and if you recall Mercer said himself that he was “ probably to blame” for much of her misfortune!

I’m afraid I must disagree, political campaigns are not like that, if the opponent is an honourable and genuine gentleman. If you had read what Mercer said about the campaign of his other opponent who wanted to be the MP for Newark you would understand. It was all done in a gentlemanly and completely above board manner and Mercer said that was the right and proper way to do things, but of course, by then he was already the MP. Just once the contender barked at Mercer asking for a open debate on fox hunting but he soon scurried away when Mercer suggested that such a debate may cause heightened emotions and that to be on the safe side there would need to be a Police presence and the cost of that Police presence would come out of the contenders pocket. So far Mercer has used The National Blood Service, the blind and those with cancer to make his point he should be the MP for Newark.
By hook or by crook I think he will sustain his authority.

Take it from me Fiona Jones did strive for her constituents and she did a damn sight more than Mercer has done for the people of Newark. The CCTV installed in Newark contributes greatly to the prevention of crime and is a matter of pride to those who appreciate its installation.

You may scoff at the idea of Fiona’s achievement (CCTV) but what has Mercer actually done for Newark? In his pre-election literature he made five pledges, and seven months later he failed to deliver on any of them. When he became the MP for Newark he said: “I am absolutely delighted for the constituency and as MP I’ll put them first and get them back on the map” Without any doubt he made the town famous because he was that MP that said in an insensitive manner that gun crimes were like "joy riding". He said people were killed by cars, but cars were not banned. So he seems to think that the devastating death of 16 five-year-old children gives little cause to ban handguns. The 1997 handgun ban was, he said, “nonsense” and “a knee-jerk reaction” Try telling that to the parents of those 16 dead babies whose bodies were riddled with bullets!

I know for a fact that when it suits him Mercer is untruthful and that a decent thoughtful gentleman said that Mercer constantly peddled dishonesties. So I will not address accusations made about Fiona Jones by the likes of Patrick Mercer.

You may believe what you like about Newark’s MP, goblins, leprechauns and the fairy down the bottom of the garden and I will do likewise.

Beyond that we must agree to disagree.

You have my forthright opinions expressing the way I feel, but it really is all to no avail whatsoever!

It’s been interesting corresponding with you and I wish you all the best in your every endeavour!

Anonymous said...

Benedict,

As someone who was close to Fiona Jones, I perhaps think that you should consider the following.

Patrick Mercer continually accused Fiona of doing nothing for her constituents.

She opened an office in Newark and in Retford as a point of contact for her constituents. The Newark office was full time, the Retford Office staffed 4 mornings a week. She was at the office or at meetings in the constituency on Mondays and held a surgery every Friday and in Retford on Saturdays. (Incidentally she held a Retford surgery the first Saturday of her trial). As her parliamentary office allowance did not cover the costs, she dipped into her own salary to ensure that her constituents had a point of contact.

Her successor Col Mercer hold monthly surgeries for just a few hours a month. Here’s his 2007 dates: http://www.patrickmercer.org.uk/advice.html

Now who do you think was offering the best service to the constituents of Newark?

Her work, unreported by the Advertiser and some confidential included action to prevent the closure of at least 3 local companies including one with over 100 employees. She lobbied ministers constantly with results that the area was often included in beneficial initiatives. She lobbied for the A46 dualing between Newark and Widmerpool to provide Newark with a fast route to the M1. She got the scheme put onto the roads programme. They are working on it now. There was one individual at her funeral who would not be alive, working and paying his way if she had not fought for him to be included in a drugs trial and he is not the only one. On one occasion, which I think Mercer claims, she was unable to attend a meeting of local hauliers. She was never invited! Conveniently Patrick Mercer was able to step in at the last moment – and made the accusation. She was set up.

As for hunting, which was mentioned in this thread, Fiona Jones held a debate with hunt supporters soon after she was elected. It was held at Retford and whilst it changed no-one’s opinion at least she allowed them their say and had hers. That takes some guts in my opinion.

As for other issues, Fiona was stitched up. The lead police officer on the case was a freemason in Newark as were a number of prominent Conservatives including the a solicitor, who acted for one of the prosecution’s star witnesses. The son of the local head of CID is employed by the same solicitor. The Nottinghamshire Freemason’s directory was mysteriously pushed through her letter

The Advertiser saga resulted from the paper’s political editor shouting in the street that she was a crook. A word used by so many Conservative canvassers during the 2001 campaign. This is why Fiona described Patrick Mercer’s victory as ‘tainted.’ When the editor (a Tory according to a family member of his who was a Labour supporter) was approached he would take no action. Later the paper was threatened with legal action after printing a defamatory letter from a constituent without getting Fiona’s side of the story. They responded that they did not have a duty to check anything. They later had to print a grudging apology. Their dislike of the Labour Party goes back to a post war libel case when Professor Laski, the Labour general secretary sued the Advertiser. In fact they won but their dislike of Labour continues. When Fiona was convicted the first place that William Hague (then leader) went to campaign was the Newark Advertiser. Just shows where their loyalties lie.

There is much more to tell but I understand her husband is finishing the book she started and there is a tv drama in the offing.

A Newark Labour Party Member


PS I heard Mercer on BBC Radio Nottingham today (15 June 2007) refuting that he made ‘racist’ remarks and claiming that a journalist stitched him up. If that was the case, why didn’t he sue or at least make a complaint to the Press Complaints Committee